Promoting Audiobooks

So now that you know how to review an audio and you get an idea of how flexible an option audiobooks are for getting more reading into your busy life, how do you promote audiobooks to the non-listener? Here are a few tips and ideas for spreading the audio love.

For me, promoting audiobooks is easy: whenever I talk a book I listened to, I make sure to emphasize that I listened to the book. I highlight some of the things that worked really well in the audiobook and sell that. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover how many audiobook listeners there are, especially among teenagers (that’s the age group with whom I work a lot). If I can model that listening is perfectly acceptable reading, then others will see it the same way. Sometimes, I like to play an audio clip, too, and it was a clip from M. T. Anderson’s Feed that turned many of the teens onto a book that had languished for a long time on the shelf. My audio copy got a lot of play for a couple of months after that.

Likewise, I try to always have an audiobook going. It keeps me fresh and helps me quickly talk an interesting title to those who are new or are looking for something different. I had a family, for example, who exhausted many of the titles in the children’s area and needed a family-friendly, lengthy series of audiobooks. Redwall was my first instinct, and they’ve been making their way eagerly through that series.

Other ways I personally promote audiobooks involves including them in displays and putting them out within the book stacks. In Illinois, there are two sets of award books for teens: The Abe Lincoln Awards and the Read for a Lifetime list. I intershelve my audio copies with the print copies, and I see both moving quite a bit. I think too easily that readers can overlook audiobooks, and when they see them right there with the print titles, they remember that those can be just as enjoyable (and it helps the titles on these lists include family friendly reads, adult titles, classics, and teen classics). I’ve also made sure that teens know during summer and winter reading club, audiobooks are DEFINITELY considered books, and they should be counted toward meeting their reading goals.

Perhaps the biggest promotion tool is right here on the blog. We make an effort to review for a reason, and Abby (the) Librarian and I developed AudioSynced for this precise reason: to get the word out about audiobooks. It’s important to review them, to talk about issues such as readers and production, and to emphasize that listening to a book is an easy way to increase your reading. Many people ask how I read so much, and it’s easy to say audiobooks have helped me carve out more reading time in my daily life.

I’m always talking about what I read with friends and family (and when I get the opportunity to do so with patrons, I seize it as well).  When discussing books, I make sure to mention that I listened to the book rather than simply saying I read it.  I think that this technique helps push the fact that listening to audios is, in fact, reading.
If people tell me “I like to read, but I just don’t have the time” (which is a dubious statement, but nonetheless…), I’ll urge them to try audiobooks, particularly if they have a commute to work.  I’ll mention that it makes doing household chores much more tolerable and actually speeds up my morning routine.  So, not only does it allow me to get in more reading, it actually helps free up time for traditional reading. Win-win!
Honestly, just having an audiobook playing when someone visits me at home or when I give someone a ride in my car is good promotion.  Many people are skeptical of audios, but if they actually hear one, it changes their mind.  Wouldn’t it be nice if libraries could have those demo stations for audiobooks like music stores have for CDs?  (After I wrote this, I thought about it some and decided some libraries probably do.)
At work, I don’t get a lot of face to face time with patrons, so I have to find other ways.  Wherever I highlight new titles (the monthly newsletter, the website, etc.), I make sure I include audios.  Our new audios are out on the shelf with the new books, and I try to display audios that I think will circ well face-out.  Unfortunately, we put our check-out pockets on the front of our audios, obscuring a large portion of the cover.  This is a practice I wish we could change.
Kelly’s mentioned other good techniques, so I won’t rehash them here.  How do you promote audiobooks?
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  1. says

    I LOVE the demo station idea. I've heard some libraries do listening parties — like bookclubs, but rather than sitting and discussing books, they play clips from a bunch of audiobooks to get people interested. I like that idea, too!

  2. says

    I can see you've put a lot of thought into promoting audiobooks. Earlier, during a time of reflection, I noticed I've been working audiobooks into smalltalk. Most people say they have not tried them. Then I make a comment about the style of the narrator making the difference between a memorable or mediocre read. (Don't laugh. That's all I know how to say right now. But it's a start.)  It gets them thinking.  Baby steps. Sound like anybody yoy know? And as for the check-out cards on the front of the CD case — can you put them in the inside of the case? The library I use places a data sticker on the inside front cover. I know it would take a lot to switch systems. But maybe you could cut the card and pocket down to fit inside the case.  

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